St. Kitts – Nevis To Allow Wiretapping and Eavesdropping

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 18, 2010 (CUOPM)

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Hon. Patrice Nisbett has expressed confidence that the proposed Interception of Communication Bill contained built in safeguards to prevent abuse and also protect political freedoms.

Mr. Nisbett told WINNFM in an interview that the way the legislation is drafted, the judiciary is the one that ultimately makes the decision on the matter.

The Interception of Communication Bill create a single legal framework within which the interception of communications on private and public networks would be responsibly authorised by a High Court Judge.

“This would be done we think, based upon the legislation in a very controlled manner and in a manner that would command some level of confidence from the general public,” said Mr. Nisbett.

He said the new legislation was broader than similar existing legislation such as the anti-terrorism Act of 2002.

“The Anti-terrorism Act dealt specifically with offences in relation to terrorism but under this particular legislation based upon the schedule of offences under which one can do an interception of communication it is much broader and wider. It now includes capital offences and non-capital offences,” Nisbett said.

Mr. Nisbett said that while the new legislation was wider in scope it could only be used under very specific circumstances and with the approval of a judge.

“What we have done by the draft legislation is to build in some very robust safeguards so that in order for there to be interception of information, that has to be authorized by a High Court judge,” Nisbett said.

He said the circumstances for requesting permission of a high court judge is in relation to issues of national security and where there are reasonable grounds to believe a crime is about to be or has been committed requiring the relevant information to carry out the necessary information.

The Attorney General stressed that the way the legislation is drafted, the judiciary is the one that ultimately makes the decision on the matter.

Minister of Information, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty said The Interception of Communication Bill is setting the stage for a new and comprehensive regime of interception of communications by mobile phones, fixed line phones, telegraphs, wireless networks and devices, mailing systems including parcels and couriers, and other means of communication.

He said that The Interception of Communication Bill will provide public authorities with the scope within the law to intercept the communications of targeted suspects, and help solve crimes which hitherto have remained difficult to unravel.

“The bill is a tool that is likely to reap dividends as it has in other jurisdictions where it has been in existence for some time,” said Minister Carty, who added that The Interception of Communication Bill will be introduced into the National Assembly shortly.

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